". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Monday, January 26, 2015

Grantchester - season 1 - PBS / ITV

The first two episodes of the current PBS Masterpiece Mysteries series, Grantchester, (shown first on the ITV network in 2014) proved the program watchable.  It's the sort of mildly pleasant distraction, with nice scenery and an ensemble of nice characters and nice little who-did-its that don't matter all that much that I like at this time of a snittering full snart sort of winter day. The series is based on The Grantchester Mysteries written by James Runcie.

The main character, Vicar Sydney Chambers, is played attractively by an attractive actor. The recurring characters are decent people, and treat each other decently. Did I mention that Grantchester is nice, and pleasant?

Its temporal locality is 1953. Sydney carries physical scars from WWII, as well as emotional scars from what happened to him in combat. However, Grantchester may not be particularly reflective of 1950's reality: sister Jen has black jazz club owning musician Johnny as her boyfriend, and Sydney does not mind; his new curate, Leonard Finch, is gay, and Sydney doesn't mind;

they bonded almost immediately via Irish whiskey, so Geordie Green the cop-partner-in-sleauthing respects the Vicar despite declaring himself a non-believer (though he has given indication that he does mind the introduction of "the pansy" to the comfortable group, but surely he will be set right in the next episode); Mrs. McGuire, the vicarage's housekeeper, is already starting to show herself as nicer than we thought at first, though we already have tired of her favorite expletive, "What the dickens?"

Everyone is well-nourished, healthy, with all their nice white teeth in place, and the wardrobe is beautifully interpreted 1950's design, that makes the period's clothes look better than they looked in 1953.

And there's a black lab puppy and lots of Louis Armstrong -- since our vicar loves jazz, though only a curmudgeon would observe the way the Vicar and Johnny talk about "jazz" that maybe they don't know anything about it? Perhaps most of the budget goes to the licenses to use these very familiar jazz cuts by the very famous musicians like Satchmo?  And to the wardrobe designer?

The only unlikeables are "gentry" and rich men -- and though we're not supposed to dislike her, we do dislike the love interest who is bound and determined to marry this rich gentry guy, who really appears an a$$hole, so why does the Vicar and everyone think he'll make a great husband, is a great guy and they're going to have a great marriage? He's going to beat her, we all know that. But if we're lucky the puppy, who is named -- what else? -- Dickens, will grow quickly into a big dog with big teeth and bite them both, and they'll stay in London, never to be seen in the environs of Grantchester again. They are not nice.


Sarah Johnson said...

Hah - all very true! I enjoyed your writeup, though I've yet to see the 2nd episode (which I DVRed and will probably see tonight).

Not having read the books, I was surprised by the near-immediate rapport between Sidney and Geordie. Another thing that surprised me, given that the NYT called the first book "the coziest of cozy murder mysteries," was the multiple close-ups of the dead body in episode 1.

Agreed on the love interest. Dislike!

Foxessa said...

Alas, I just saw your comment. I've been fairly distracted lately.

I was kind of disappointed with the last two episodes -- because they didn't seem as well written. OTOH, Our Attractive Vicar wasn't so nice, was he? :)

Love, C.